Time Well Spent? How to Effectively Manage the Most Valuable Resource

Submitted by Laurie Veillette

Many consider time to be the most valuable resource on Earth. We can’t reclaim the time we’ve spent and even the richest can’t buy more of it. How we spend our time reflects what we prioritize but, unfortunately, not always what we really value. At the end of your life, what do you think your use of time will reflect? What would you like it to reflect? Below I’ve outlined several steps for maximizing your time and spending it on what matters most.

  1. Consider your values. What is important to you? What adds meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment to your life? These questions can serve as a guide when considering how you might like to budget your time. If you’re not sure what your values are, check out this list by Dr. Russ Harris.
  1. Determine how you are actually using your time. Believe it or not, we’re not great at guesstimating this and often overestimate just how busy we are. I suggest filling out a 24-hour week schedule (like this one) to get a sense of your time consumption. Add in as much detail as you can, including tasks like food preparation, waiting (lines, traffic), hygiene, tidying up, child and/or animal care, and time scrolling through social media or watching TV.
  1. Examine and assess. Having completed your 24-hour week schedule, you should have a better understanding of your time use and perhaps even identified precious, available space in your day or week. What priorities does this week reflect? Are there aspects of your time management you would like to change? If so…
  1. Plan and create change. Plan out your next week on a blank 24-hour week schedule by filling in all mandatory commitments and generally unavoidable tasks (e.g., work, commutes, child pick-up, appointments, sleep, meal prep and meals). Identify spaces on this schedule where you can reserve time for a valued activity – no moment too brief! Block out and protect these times as you would a work meeting or doctor’s appointment.

Additional time management recommendations:

  • Be flexible and self-compassionate: S*** happens and you’re human
  • Don’t procrastinate – Be proactive: If possible, get an early start on tasks
  • Plan for inconveniences and delays (e.g., lines, traffic, small talk, low energy days)
  • Get creative: Exercise on breaks, advance meal prep, coordinate responsibilities with others
  • Stay organized: Use lists, calendars, reminders – whatever system works best for you
  • Remember that self-care is not selfish: It’s a gift to those who love us and need us on our A game
  • Re-examine and re-assess your time management as needed: Burn out, chronic exhaustion, and overwhelm may be signs that it’s time to check in

If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out for help. These are two available resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis text line:  741741

Laurie Veillette, PsyD
Laurie Veillette, PsyDCCL Board Member
Clinical health psychologist. Specialized training in health psychology and integrated care.

If you have a wellness themed topic you would like to share or learn more about, and/or blog/vlog about as an expert in a health/wellness related field, please reach out to shelby@cclyme.org. 

Shelby Wood
Manager of Program Development
CommunityCare of Lyme